Monday, May 24, 2010

Review: Justice League Of America #45

Like many people, I enjoyed Blackest Night more than I have any recent DC mega-event. And one of the more interesting parts of it for me was the ending when the universe resurrected a few of the fallen, amongst them the Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and Firestorm. While those characters stories seem to be ensconced in the Brightest Day series, another of those resurrected characters seems to have found a home in Justice League of America.

Jade, the green-skinned beauty I first encountered in the Crisis-crossover issues of Infinity Incorporated, was also brought back by the white energy. And James Robinson and Mark Bagley are covering the whys and hows here in the JLA.

I have to say, after semi-suffering through the Brad Metzler and most of the Dwayne McDuffie runs on the title (those stories seemed uneven and haphazard), I have shied away from the title. Even when James Robinson took over, I didn't come back on board.

But the inclusion of Supergirl onto the roster was enough to at least have me look at the title again. I am probably going to sound like an old-timer, but for me the Justice League should be the 'big 7' or at least have most of the 'big 7' on the team. This Justice League is sort of starting to look like a more classic League albeit as a legacy version. Dick Grayson, Donna Troy, and Kara are the 'new Trinity' on this team. And Jade is probably going to be on the team as the resident 'Green Lantern'.

And with those sort of pillars on the team, Robinson's inclusion of Starman and Congorilla can be looked upon as an interesting wrinkle.

As I am reviewing the issue, I had to take the opportunity to take one more look at the wonderful David Mack variant cover. I really think it is beautiful. Mack's work is always stunning.

But on to the story. In last issue, a huge green meteor fell to Earth and landed in Germany. The Justice League skirmished with a more-than-usually addled Etrigan and discovered that Jade was within the stone. The encounter did not go unnoticed by the local authorities as Der Rakete-Auslese, German's version of the Rocket Red corps, arrived to try to take control of the situation. In the mean time, over in the JSA headquarters, Alan Scott become engulfed and comatose in a blaze of green energy.

As a new member of the living, I am sure that Jade is reeling a bit. Where was she? Does she have memories of her time away? Whenever someone is brought back in comics, I hope the writers will explore how out of sorts it must feel. Instead, most just sweep those feelings away and have the character just start acting normally.

Here, at least Jade is angry as the German corps try to apprehend her. She has just returned to life, to Earth, and she isn't going to be imprisoned so soon. Especially when she needs to deal with the meteor that brought her home; the meteor is the Starheart, the source of her power and her father's power.

Bagley does a good job on this splash, showing Jade's anger and energy nicely. In particular, I liked the energy coiling and unfolding around her.

As Dick tries to calm everyone down and talk his way through the happenings, the JSA is flying towards Germany as well. Alan Scott, despite being catatonic in his cocoon of green flame, has arisen and started to fly to the green meteor as well.

Alan Scott's trajectory takes him straight to the Starheart's crash site and the JSA begin their approach when a new player appears on the board.

Power Girl, as addled as the Demon was, zooms to the meteor's crash area as well. And it doesn't seem like she'll let anything stand in her way ... not even the jet carrying her friends. She simply acts like a battering ram and plows through the plane destroying it. Don't ask me exactly how it happens, but the Flash and Jesse Quick are able to use their speed to pluck their colleagues out of mid-air and safely bring them to the ground. Hmmm ... still trying to figure out how they could do that while in free fall.

Regardless, Power Girl is clearly out of control and wildly, maniacally spirals to the Starheart. The Justice League brace for impact when suddenly ...

Someone comes in to intervene.

Supergirl streaks in and stops Power Girl in her tracks with a powerful left hook.

Noting that Power Girl has 'gone nuts', Supergirl realizes it is time for her to shine in front of the League members.


I know it probably hasn't happened that often, but I just think the Supergirl/Power Girl fighting plot line has been overplayed.

It turns out that Congorilla contacted Supergirl before the team left the Watch tower. He felt they might need her.

We know that Congorilla and Supergirl were together on the 'Cry For Justice' strike team, so I understand how they know each other. But would he really feel comfortable calling her for help? My guess is there is more back story to them, something that happened during or after Cry For Justice that made them closer.

Before too much can be said, Power Girl recovers from Supergirl's initial attack and begins tearing through anyone and everyone she can. Much like War of the Superman, Robinson does a good job in a couple of pages showing just how insane it would be if a Kryptonian went bad and started destroying things. Power Girl single-handedly scatters the JLA and the Rocketmen.

Supergirl re-engages and is able to hold Power Girl in check until Dick can come up with a plan. Jade's powers are magic-based. Maybe she can stop Power Girl.

In a nice splash page, Donna gets Supergirl out of the way while Jade dispatches Power Girl with a two handed blast.

I always worry about the overuse of splash pages and the resulting inability for a lot of story to be told in an issue. This could be used as a template for creators trying to marry the use of splash pages for big action with story-telling. Despite 4 single page splashes and one double-page splash, this issue is dense with story. Between text boxes and clever multi-panel layouts by Bagley on the non-splash pages, a lot of story is told. That makes me happy. If I am now paying $4 for a comic, I want their to be some steak as well as sizzle.

In an effort to figure out exactly what is happening, Jade constucts a green force bubble around the JLA, the JSA, and the Starheart.

Supergirl realizes that she has to stay put with the group now. In a nice exchange, Dick sort of informally invited Kara to join the League. It's a small moment, barely registering with me the first time, but given the chaos around them I suppose there isn't time for any fancy initiation. I guess that is it ... Supergirl is now a member of the Justice League.

Finally able to catch their breath, Jade decides to provide some exposition about what is happening.

The Starheart, the source of her and her father's powers, is the crystallized form of the early universes chaotic elements. The Guardians mixed the chaos of those early times with their more ordered energy to create the stone. Somewhere along the way, a shard of it made it's way to Earth where Alan Scott was able to control it and use it for good as Green Lantern.

Now, somehow, the whole Starheart has come to Earth, and that much chaotic energy is starting to effect the magical and elemental forces on the planet.

Zatara, the Floronic Man, and other have gone as insane as Etrigan and Power Girl and are lashing out blindly. Even the weather is off.

I had to include this panel of Firehawk, one of my favorite characters from the early-80s. I loved that Gerry Conway/Pat Broderick run on Firestorm back then. I am glad that Robinson sees something in these smaller characters and brings them to the forefront.

The two groups of heroes finally realize what is going on. The Starheart's energies will continue to erode the stability of the world unless it can be controlled.

Somehow Jade's resurrection 'awoke' the Starheart and brought it from deep space to Earth. And if something isn't done everything will be destroyed: "Earth ... life ... McDonald's". For some reason I liked this line. Even super-heroes occasionally grab something from the Golden Arches.

But who or what can take control of the Starheart, contain it's energy?

You might say Alan Scott ... especially since he already wrested control from the shard in his lantern.

Unfortunately, it looks like it might be the other way around. Maybe the Starheart is going to control Alan Scott. Suddenly conscious, Scott dons his Kingdom Come Parallaxian armor and states he is here to bring about the end of the world.

Well, suffice it to say that this issue grabbed me more than a JLA issue has in a long time; I am on board for the ride. I have always like Jade and Donna; I have come to like Dick as Batman a lot. And now Supergirl is on the team. Add to that a sort of old school storyline involving the power source of the original Green Lantern and I'm happy.

I do have to say that I would have been a little happier if the JSA wasn't here in such numbers. I am trying to learn about the Justice League members, see how they are interacting. To have pages devoted only to the JSA detracted a bit from the story (even though the presence of some of them makes sense given the GL angle). And, I have already said how I am a bit fatigued with the Karen vs Kara story. I hope we get an explanation why Power Girl was effected by the Starheart since it seems to be effecting only magical and elemental characters otherwise.

Still, Robinson stuffs a lot of story into the issue and has be intrigued.

I like Bagley's art, particularly his rendition of Jade here. At times his line work seems muddier than I am used to seeing, a thicker line that sometimes distracted me a little. His Supergirl is very nice.

And, hurray! Supergirl is back on a team!

Overall grade: B+


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Bubbly Bunny said...

I'm just happy this wasn't some random fight between Supergirl and Powergirl. I am so sick of people comparing them. Personality wise they are two completely different people. It's nice to see Supergirl on the Justice League. Even though Connor will become Superman i think Kara will be the true successor. To bad though now Kara won't join the Legion with Brainy.

Saranga said...

i hated this issue. I hated the characterisation, the exposition, the art and the interactions. to me, it just isn't the jla, i'm not interested in seeing a legacy version.

I won't go into this more here (after all that's what my blog is for), but suffice to sya I won't be putting this on my pull list.

valerie21601 said...

From what I heard from my local direct comics shop owner and other comic buying/loving readers, so many people just want to see SUPERMAN back in the JLA not Supergirl even though they love her. Mainly because Kal-El has been gone so long during the Year Without Superman saga and Mon-El being in his place far too long. Especially if it's true this storyline will be building for the next two years.

Many say if this happened a year later or a year and half they might have accepted it. Just too soon for this legacy JLA to come in after War of the Supermen is what I am hearing.

TalOs said...

Honestly? I'd much prefer Supergirl over Superman being in the JLA any day for I personally feel that Superman being a member of the JLA stories have been done to death (let him go join the JSA along with Bruce and Wonder Woman) where as having Supergirl being in the JLA in his place is something all so fresh and exciting and offers up alot of untapped potential.

Question: did anyone elses comic store offer the Supergirl cover variant in the end, I ask because mine were surprised to not have any included in their shipment last week and they're usually really on the ball with these type of things. :-/

TalOs said...

P.S. Anj and y'all, I've just recently found THE official finalized cover to SUPERGIRL #53 that both Jamal and DC color artist David Baron did recently posted on David's official blog:

Don't ya just love it! B-D

Anj said...

I'm just happy this wasn't some random fight between Supergirl and Powergirl. I am so sick of people comparing them. Personality wise they are two completely different people. It's nice to see Supergirl on the Justice League.

Thanks for the post.

Supergirl/ Power Girl fights always feel forced ... that there isn't a good reason for it and this one was no different with Power Girl being controlled. I hope we don't see them fight again for a long time.

Anj said...

i hated this issue. I hated the characterisation, the exposition, the art and the interactions. to me, it just isn't the jla, i'm not interested in seeing a legacy version.

I'm interested in reading your take! I agree that the JLA should be the big 7, and I am sure it will end up there.

Anj said...

Many say if this happened a year later or a year and half they might have accepted it. Just too soon for this legacy JLA to come in after War of the Supermen is what I am hearing.

It's is true that it might be the wrong time to try this.

Saranga said...

my shop couldn't get the alternate cover in. so i am stuck with the godawful regular variant.

TalOs said...

Oh so it wasn't just at my store then. Interesting.